I have four stories in it, "Beacon", "Bad Sun", "Old Folks", and "Her Number". I might describe them as speculative flash fiction dark folktales. I'm including a couple of them in the collection I'm working on called Mexpocalyptic Tales, hopefully done baking this year.
The Dreamers book has been a long time coming, I sent in the last edits when I was camping at Chaco Canyon years ago, running around trying to get a data connection and not getting one until we had driven well outside the park, fences, houses, nonexistent and nothing but desert.
I've mentioned a bit on social media that the idea for "Old Folks" came from my dad who asked me to write it a bit before he passed. The original version I was going to show him was much like what is published. The night before I was going to give him the printed off story, he told me, "Buddy I'm sorry I took you to the Hill when you were a boy. I imagine you heard lots of racism." The Hill was a den of inequity where my extended family had a liquor store, now a bunch of yuppie apartments. I told dad, yeah, I learned what a wetback was and that it applied to people like me when I was three years old. He said sorry again, and looked away. Inside, I was like it took you that long to realize?
Our relatives at the Hill said the nword around customers, treated Mexicans workers like slaves, made racist jokes. Said I must get lots of sun. Dad had seen mom's relatives in LA and New Mexico, many Spanglish speaking and brown. His own father told him not to marry her, to stay in his race. To me the apology was nice, but a bit useless, and I don't mean that in an ungrateful way. His white father of a brown person tactic was to tell us we were Heinz 57, mixed, a more palatable word for Anglos to call us. Not the double colonized to not knowing themselves Mission Indians we came from, aka Mexicans, the dirty word. The racism around us growing up was very forward, and little was done to protect me from it, though my own parents were confused and class climbing and tried to erase what they were to fit in places that wouldn't have us, rednecks, Mexicans or Indians. I literally wasn't allowed in 80 to 90 percent in my friends houses as a kid, a statement that caused a bunch of white fragility and accusations on Facebook.
After the conversation, I thought dad felt bad, a little awkward. I know the police never put a gun to his head for no reason, that teachers might have answered his raised hand, that admins, clerks, the world didn't sneer at him or purposefully misinform and huskily demand of him if he spoke English or when did he come to this country. Things he often didn't believe when I told him.
So I cleared up the story for dad. Took out the overt predatory Anglo exploitation. Made it just about the old and the young. Added in some allusions to a classic short story about a doctor and eternal youth that I can't remember now (thanks TV pandemic wasteland).
Years later, when the nice editors sent me the edits, I remembered how I wrote the story in the first place. Now, a young Chicano boy visits the old folks and gets called amigo before being lead to his dark fate.
If you made it this far, check Speculative Fiction for Dreamers out or ask your local bookstore to order. I asked, wondering if my local carried it, they said no. I went back, bam, they had it. Little questions are powerful.